Credit: Evan Hanover

It’s a dubious honorific, but the press release for Nick Hart’s metatheatrical, deadpan, quirktastic retelling of the Battle of the Alamo contains, without a doubt, the most eyebrow-raising disclaimer I think I’ve ever come across reviewing theater in Chicago: “We recommend you do not sit in the front row or on an aisle if you want to remain in the theater to observe the entire production.”

Sure enough, between Moth-style personal essays about identity, inscrutable bits of Western-themed absurdism, and metaphors about barbecued milk, ensemble members playing key Texas Revolution figures hand randomly-selected audience members a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon and an egg (?), then usher them out of the black box space to a friendly “death concierge” into the lobby.

The idea of a production unexpectedly dismissing members of its own audience takes such a degree of anarchic chutzpah that it’s difficult not to love or at least appreciate the creativity and sense of risk behind it; I was a little disappointed, then, when the “deceased” were unceremoniously escorted back to their seats without comment a scene or two later. That half-in, half-out level of commitment to wild concepts is indicative of too much of this intermission-less hour-and-fifty-minute production, which presents history lessons, wild (but true) bits of Phil Collins trivia, and earnest personal revelations without any one of those elements solidifying the show’s sense of purpose. For every minute of joyous spontaneity, there are another two that make you want to ask, “Folks, what are we even doing here?”   v